While maybe not the first thing on every tourist's list, if you're into botany at all, or interested in Chinese flora, then it is definitely worth it to check out a flower and plant market while you're in China. Typically, they have a lot more than just flowers too: many pet markets are associated with the flower markets. (Though, you might need to be able to handle seeing little cute bunnies in really small cages.) But you'll still have fun seeing the pet market as well.
Caojiadu Flower market is probably the best wholesale flower and plant market in the city. The market is mostly indoors - with a few shops on the ground floor spilling out into the parking area - so you can save it for a rainy day. The large, multi-story market is quite a maze so remember if you came in through the orchids or the lilies to find your way back out!
Flowers and Plants
You will likely come in through the ground floor area in the flower department. A large portion of the ground floor is dedicated to potted orchids, house plants, and arranged flowers. Especially at Chinese New Year, this section is dazzling with the amount of incredibly festive arrangements for the holidays. If you go before Christmas you'll find the place crammed with everything from pink pre-illuminated trees to live evergreens crowding the aisles.
Further in, you'll find the section with pet supplies. Some vendors sell fish and small turtles. You might also find small mammals like rabbits, but not always. You can buy pet supplies such as food and cages but what is fun are the small decorative items that go into aquariums.
After the pet section, you squeeze through a door and find yourself in another section of the market that is all wholesale flowers. Here the flowers are heaped in piles or standing in large buckets of water. Huge hydrangea blossoms are wrapped in tissue paper and you'll find packets of 24-36 roses all wrapped up in corrugated paper.
Back Outside Area
If you continue through, you'll find the bird supply area outside at the back of the building. Here you'll find sellers with all shapes and sizes of bird cages made from bamboo and other materials. There are some gorgeous tiny cages as well - but not for birds. These are cricket cages and make really fun and interesting souvenirs.
Caojiadu Market Second Floor
If you really dig in through the first floor, you'll find an escalator leading up to the dark maze that is the second floor. Up here you will find an odd assortment of things. First off, there's a huge section of the second-floor market selling nothing but fake flowers in tiny to enormous arrangements. There are also a number of shops selling homeware and soft furnishings like picture frames, ceramics, and of course, large stuffed peacocks.
Another section of the second-floor market sells everything you might need for DIY decoration such as ribbon (bought by the spool, not the meter) bags of stick-on faux jewels and meters of dyed feathers. If you live here, believe it or not, this kind of thing comes in handy for school projects and the occasional self-made hat.
Caojiadu Market Address
The market is located in Shanghai's Jing'An District, north of Nanjing Road.
1148 Changshou Road, near Wanhangdu Road | 长寿路1148号，近万航渡路
While the market is officially open every day, if you go during Chinese New Year holidays, you'll find many vendors gone.